How ADCC Came To Be The Powerhouse Competition It is Today

How ADCC Came To Be The Powerhouse Competition It is Today



The ADCC is perhaps the most prestigious grappling competition from it’s conception to this very date.

In 1993 after watching the first UFC Sheik Tahnoon Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the 6th son of United Arabian Emirates leader Sheik Zayed, was amazed by the beauty and efficacy of jiu-jitsu. At the time he was completing his education in the USA and he became a huge fan of MMA.

In the next several years he would meet Gracie Barra San Diego’s then instructor Nelson Monteiro whose class he joined under a pseudonym “Ben”.

The Sheikh would return to Abu Dhabi in 1998 with plenty of bjj education under his belt. It was there he set out to create and build his vision of a tournament – The Abu Dhabi Combat Club. Royler Gracie characterized this as the beginning of “the modern era of submission grappling”.

The Black Belt Sheikh: The Incredible Journey of Tahnoon the Godfather of Jiu-Jitsu


The ADCC aimed to have neutral rules that would allow different grappling styles to compete in between each other without strikes hoping to gain insight into the most effective grappling styles available across the globe.

Interestingly as the Sheikh Tahnoon learned jiu-jitsu in America he saw flaws in the philosophy of the Gi – mainly that many lower body submissions went largely ignored. To make sure his perspective was good Tahnoon proceeded to learn Sambo and gained knowledge of wrestling and judo.


The first ever edition of ADCC happened in March of 1998 in Abu Dhabi. It attracted some of the biggest names on the scene including MMA fighters in spite of novelty and lack of publicity. MMA Fighters who competed include Matt Hume, Frank Trigg, Carlos Newton, Oleg Taktarov and others.



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